If you were elected Pope, what would do?
Watch Brian Holdsworth’s video commentary on what changes he would make if he were suddenly elected to the papacy.
This one has the potential to get me in some hot water… so let’s start with a disclaimer. You might be thinking, a lay person can’t be elected Pope so what’s the point of even pretending, well actually, a lay person can be elected pope. Pope John the 19th was a layman who was elected to the papacy and immediately ordained in all the necessary orders.
But I’m also married and bishops can’t be married and since the Pope is the Bishop of Rome, that pretty much disqualifies me. Although, priestly celibacy is a discipline that could be changed and hasn’t always been in place, so you never know.
At any rate, my election to the papacy is about as likely as a large mammalian beast of burden passing through the eye of a needle. It should also be noted that the Pope can’t just snap his fingers and change anything he wants in the Church, so this is more of a self-indulgent thought exercise that might still have some useful talking points for reform in the Church.
I also thought it would be a fun way to get a little more personal about my own preferences and give my viewers a chance to get to know me a little more in the familiar format of commentary.
So, the first thing I would do is dispel all the unnecessary confusion around clergy footwear and commission an official line of shoes designed and manufactured by Vans. I just think that would be awesome.
The second thing I’d do is give a kind of priority to beauty in the way we communicate and live our faith. This is something I’ve talked about in previous videos with respect to music, architecture, and the liturgy, but every time that topic is introduced for debate, people seem to descend into predictable dichotomies.
A well-rehearsed rebuttal to that desire is that all that Gold and marble is a waste of money and where are we supposed to find choirs and orchestras for the kind of music that used to be popular.
This position seems to make the common mistake that by beauty, I mean obnoxious displays of wealth. Beautiful sacred spaces don’t have to be covered in gold, and personally, I’d prefer it if they weren’t.
I think we should design our sacred spaces to be as beautiful as possible using simple and humble materials like wood, glass, and stone. But they don’t need to be any less grand for it. We should commission artists and craftsmen to transform those humble materials so that they sing the praises of God.
Inspiring art and design is what makes a space beautiful because it reveals the creative mind of God and inspires the rest of us with the fruits of the virtues of those who made them and how they allowed God to communicate through their craft.
My ideal parish church design would be one with masonry, soaring wood columns with designs carved on every inch of them, frescos and painted patterns, and stained-glass windows. Something akin to the interior of Hogwarts or the great hall of Edoras in the Lord of the Rings.
And it’s not like those modern designs we seem to be preferring these days come cheap. The LA cathedral is striking example of what I’m talking about.
Regarding music, I’ll just quickly say that the most beautiful liturgy I ever attended was a weekday mass at Westminster Cathedral that had one cantor and one organist. Not exactly big budget stuff.
The next reform I’d encourage would be to place less emphasis on the need for theological credentials for bishops. The current climate is one where if you don’t have some kid of doctorate in theology, the likelihood of being named a bishop is slim.
Sure, we look for other good qualities as well, but without that piece of paper, you won’t even be considered and I think we’re missing out in a big way because of this. Of all the qualities Jesus looked for in the 12 Apostles he chose, none of them possessed impressive academic accomplishments. This should tell us something!
Think about the many holy saints we could point to that had little to show for their academic achievements like Padre Pio, Andre Bessette, and Jean Vianney. The latter who faced opposition to his ordination to the priesthood because he was seen as too slow and ignorant.
This is one of those things where we’ve kind of painted ourselves into a corner as a Church because we’ve developed such a complex deposit of theology that we think that you have to be a theologian to talk about the faith, let alone teach it to others.
Theology is often described as the science of God and while that has value, the amount of emphasis we put on it straddles the boundaries of idolatry. What the Church needs now, more than ever, is people who can share Christ with the world and I think the best suited people for that job are those who have an intimate relationship with him first and foremost.
Like, if you wanted to get to know me, you could talk to my doctor, who knows all about the science of Brian and that would provide interesting information, but it wouldn’t help you get to know me. My friends and family would be the best people to consult on that question. I think it’s the same with Jesus.
Next, I would bring an end to the cold war between the Knights of Columbus and the Freemasons. I’d get the Knights to issue a challenge to the Freemasons to finally have it out in a winner takes all battle somewhere on the plains of Scotland to decide once and for all, which old guy fraternity is the best.
Lastly, I would ceremonially demolish the Vatican’s website. As a web designer myself, I can’t say many nice things about this absolute disaster of a digital abomination. It’s not mobile responsive, it’s using the same background texture pattern that they were using at the TURN OF THE CENTURY, and when you finally find something worth reading, it’s in black text on a dark textured background.
Personally, I would love to redesign it so if you want to start tweeting at Pope Francis to get me to redesign their site and maybe include a link to this video, that might be a place to start.
Well, that was fun. I had a lot more things in my list, but I think this video is long enough so you can probably expect a part two at some point.